What is Radiation Therapy?
Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy X-rays, electrons or other sources of radiation to treat diseases – usually cancer. It can also be used to treat noncancerous conditions, including blocked coronary arteries.
Radiation therapy works by damaging the genetic material within cancer cells. Once this happens, the cancer cells are not able to grow and spread. When these damaged cancer cells die, the body naturally removes them. Normal cells are also affected by radiation, but they can repair themselves in a way that cancer cells cannot. Your radiation oncologist will develop a plan to deliver the radiation to the tumor area, shielding as much surrounding normal tissue as possible.
Your radiation oncologist may recommend using radiation therapy to:
- Eliminate tumors that have not spread to other parts of your body
- Reduce the risk that cancer will return after you undergo surgery or chemotherapy by killing cancer cells that might remain
- Shrink the tumor before surgery
- Treat benign conditions